Surges in Internet Use Due to COVID-19 Cause Concerns

Laura BednarVulnerabilitiesLeave a Comment

Internet Bandwidth COVID-19

With many businesses and public places temporarily closed due to COVID-19, people turn to their home internet connection for the latest news and sources of entertainment. However, this increase in internet usage may put a strain on bandwidth capabilities around the globe. While experts and IT professionals claim that the internet was designed for these high traffic levels, big name streaming services are taking proactive steps to ensure there is enough connectivity for vital communication.

Spike in Activity Won’t Slow Down the Web

The remote workforce, students completing online classes, and families looking to stay entertained are causing an increase in internet usage. A week by week comparison made earlier this month from Verizon found the following statistics:

  • Total web traffic up 22%
  • Video streaming services like Netflix and Amazon up by 12%
  • Web traffic up by 20%
  • Virtual private network usage up by 30%
  • Online gaming increased the most by 75%

Many US carriers have responded to this change by suspending caps on data usage. In some areas in the US, such as Seattle, network usage has increased by 40% total. This is the same level of usage that is seen during massive events like the Superbowl and the Olympics. Vice President at Public Knowledge, Harold Feld, said that older networks with aging infrastructure may see increased latency, while newer cable broadband networks without upload constraints will perform fine.

The CEO of Cloudflare explained that the internet should be able to handle extended spikes of internet usage for a few months or “however long this heightened period of time happens.” While the internet may be ready to support this surge, the platforms commonly used including YouTube, Zoom, and Facebook are worried their own sites may not be able to handle the consistent traffic.

Sharing Space for Critical Connections

To accommodate the need for additional capacity, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile completed a deal with the satellite provider Dish, to borrow unused wireless spectrum to boost their own network capacities. In Europe, Netflix, Amazon and YouTube have agreed to stream their shows in standard definition instead of the usual high definition to conserve network availability.

Both Facebook and the Disney+ streaming service have agreed to reduce bandwidth by streaming standard definition videos rather than high definition in Europe. This continent has a weaker internet infrastructure than the United States, but this change may also come to North America if network availability decreases. In Facebook’s case, they plan to decrease video quality on posted videos and any Facebook Live streaming.

Bandwidth Everywhere and Not a Bit to Use

While the amount of internet capacity seems to be stable for now, the constant increase in its usage may stretch the bandwidth to its breaking point. If the network were to collapse, communities, cities, states, and even countries may lose communication access. While this is a worst case scenario, there are ways to limit the amount of internet you use.

One of the easiest things to do is disconnect any devices from the internet that you are not using. This will not only save bandwidth, but will make the device you are currently using faster. Watching videos in lower quality can reduce the amount of network power to run the video. Taking a few simple steps may be the key to maintaining connectivity during this pandemic.

SecureData understands the need for digital communication and is there to help you with all of your data security needs. We offer data recovery services for all devices, digital forensics, and hardware encrypted storage devices for your sensitive information. For more information on our digital security products and services, call 1-800-388-1266.